David L. Goetsch
Sheep in the Midst of Wolves in the Workplace
Do you ever feel like a sheep in the midst of wolves when you go to work? The modern workplace can be a challenging environment for Christians. In Matthew 10:16, Christ told His apostles to be “wise” and “innocent” as they went out to spread the gospel “in the midst of wolves.” This is good advice for Christians who work with people who sometimes behave like wolves. Temptation, greed, misguided ambition, jostling for power, and the human desire to fit in have always presented challenges for Christians in the workplace. Add to this list secular humanism, moral relativism, political correctness, and anti-Christian bias and the workplace can be a stormy sea for Christians to navigate.
Because secular humanism and moral relativism are on the rise in our culture, they are also on the rise in the workplace. As a result, some Christians wonder if they can still succeed in secular careers without compromising their faith. The message in my new book, Christians on the Job: Winning at Work without Compromising Your Faith, is that not only can Christians survive in this new environment, they can thrive. The key is to heed Christ’s admonition in Matthew 10:16 to be both “wise” and “innocent.” Being innocent in this context means being faithful to the teachings of Scripture. Being wise means adeptly applying what Scripture teaches in ways that are workplace appropriate. My book, Christians on the Job, is full of examples of how to be both wise and innocent as you confront faith-related dilemmas at work.
Workplace appropriate strategies are those that are Biblically-correct but that are also effective with coworkers who do not know Christ or, worse yet, reject Him. In this edition of SCRIPTURE IN ACTION, I provide one example of a strategy that is Biblically-correct and workplace appropriate for the purpose of illustration. In subsequent editions, I will provide more examples so that you might become increasingly adept at applying Matthew 10:16 in your career. Today’s example is of a committed Christian I will call Lois who was being pressured by her boss to falsely inflate the numbers in her sales reports to make him look better. Lois knew that being innocent as set forth in Matthew 10:16 required that she refuse to turn in false reports. Her dilemma was in determining how to go about refusing her supervisor’s demand. Lois knew her boss was a tyrant who would not look kindly on her refusing to obey his orders. This is where she had to be wise, but how should she go about it?
After much prayer and having sought the counsel of several fellow believers, Lois decided on an approach she was comfortable with. She searched the Internet for stories in professional journals in which business executives had ruined their careers and sometimes their lives by making unethical choices. Lois scheduled an appointment with her boss and told him she understood why he wanted her to inflate her sales numbers, but she was worried about what this could do to his career. Lois showed him the articles she had found about executives who ruined their careers by making unethical choices or coercing subordinates to take unethical actions. Then she said, “In this age of You Tube, social media, and the Internet, these kinds of things always come out. There are no secrets anymore. I am concerned about what might happen to your career when it is discovered you required me and others to falsify our sales reports. The executives in the articles I showed you thought they wouldn’t get caught, but they did. All it took was one disgruntled employee to reveal the whole thing. Don’t make yourself vulnerable to people who might want to bring you down.”
Her boss listened, albeit begrudgingly, and then dismissed Lois. He never said another word to her about their meeting, but he never again tried to coerce Lois into taking unethical action on his behalf. Lois was innocent in the Biblical sense because she was respectful and honest in approaching her boss and because she refused to lie and cheat on his behalf. But she was also wise in that she knew telling her boss falsifying reports would compromise her faith would have no effect on him. He rejected her faith. Instead she appealed to his self-interest and instinct for survival. This was wise because even those who reject Christian values and Scriptural principles are quick to recognize and act on self-interest. Lois found a solution that was Biblically-correct and workplace appropriate. She was both innocent and wise.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com